Trusting Teens That They Can Go to Bed Early
“Late” nights are more stressful for teens than early ones. It’s not only biological, but genetic too.
Howling at the moon
High-stressed teenagers are more likely to stumble out of bed late each night and make poor choices and hit harder on impulse buys, experts report. They’re not as focused on morning activities and social lives and still deeply committed to their smartphones and social media apps, these teens say. For these teens, a night of late-night snoozing is not so late it goes from the kinds of things kids do (plunge into a crack between two shipping containers, using a live can opener and frying chicken on an open fire, for example) to needing a pick-me-up just a few hours earlier, warns Dr. David L. Buss, a psychologist and chief medical adviser for ConnectedHeart, a company that developed a smartphone app to help teens feel better about their body image. “It’s a deeper existential crisis that causes teens to say they ‘are out of control,’” says Buss.
Buss cites a study by Baylor University researchers that investigated 5,000 adolescents during the summer to find out why not going to bed earlier and earlier is so common for teens.
Higher cortisol levels
Researchers interviewed teens between the ages of 14 and 17 about their sleep habits. The study found that teens who had trouble falling asleep, getting up in the middle of the night or stayed up late, had higher cortisol levels, which is a marker of stress in the body.
Teen Stress Busters
A more stimulating environment and a chemical imbalance can set teens off, leading to hyperactivity, adolescent ADHD or perfectionism that leave teens in counterproductive moods, says Buss. In fact, kids that have a self-esteem issue — high self-esteem but a low ability to cope with adversity — are more likely to spend hours each night at the computer, or sit and stare at screens while they play videogames, argue or eat potato chips, studies show.
Boosting teen sleep
To keep teens from feeling so driven to late nights, behavioral sleep specialists recommend telling your teens that they need more sleep than they feel like they can get, says Bridget Petersen, clinical leader for behavioral sleep medicine at Cleveland Clinic Sleep Disorders Center. It helps teens and other adults think, say and feel better about their body.
To help teens cope with stress they feel under the circumstances, Dr. Susan Carman, who performs a variety of sleep disorders in Texas and New York, suggests talking about how you are feeling and working together to develop a routine, notes Carman.
What To Do When Your Teen Won’t Go to Bed Until After 11 p.m.
Setting rules for going to bed can prevent your teen from burning the midnight oil. Parents should tell their kids they need at least eight hours a night, with blocks of uninterrupted sleep in between, says Dr. Petersen. Teens, who tend to get fewer sleep hours than adults for several reasons, including:
Religion, family or work obligations,
Lack of extra-curricular activities and/or homework,
Personal lifestyle decisions, including activities such as movie watching, hanging out with friends or carpooling,